Exhibition 'God on Earth. Emperor Domitian'

Date of news: 14 December 2021

With over 275 artifacts from many world museums, the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (National Museum of Antiquities) in Leiden puts the Roman emperor Domitian in the spotlight this winter. The exhibition will be open from 17 December 2021. Dr Nathalie de Haan and Prof Eric Moormann are guest curators. They also wrote a book about Domitian, who went down in history as one of the worst emperors the Roman Empire has known.

PERSFOTO1 God op Aarde Keizer Domitianus

Domitian ruled the Roman Empire from 81 to 96 A.D. This period is often seen as a Golden Age. Yet today, almost nobody knows his name and in antiquity, he was mainly known as a tyrant and a bad emperor. So bad that he had to be erased from history.

International allure

Almost 2000 years after his death, the exhibition 'God on Earth' takes a close look at his turbulent life story, from his childhood on Pomegranate Street in Rome to his rise to the top and his merciless fall. Archaeological masterpieces, spectacular animations, films, and wall-sized views of Domitian's Rome will introduce visitors to this 'forgotten emperor' in a quest to discover who he was as a politician, a general, a lover, and a self-proclaimed 'god on earth'. The exhibition is a project of international stature with more than 275 masterpieces from 25 museum collections and private collections from home and abroad, including the Musei Capitolini (Rome), the Museo Archeologico Nazionale (Naples), the Musée du Louvre (Paris), the British Museum (London), J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu, California) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York).


RICH researchers Dr Nathalie de Haan and Prof Eric Moormann are - together with Claire Stocks (Newcastle University, affiliated researcher RICH) and Aurora Raimondi Cominesi (RMO, PhD Radboud University 2019) - guest curators of the exhibition. De Haan and Moormann also wrote a book about the emperor, which has the same name as the exhibition: 'God op aarde. Keizer Domitianus' ('God on Earth. Emperor Domitian'). In it, they describe how recent research has nuanced the image of Domitian as a tyrant and cruel despot. Not to rehabilitate him, but to better understand how power was shaped in the first century.

The exhibition 'God on Earth. Emperor Domitian' can be seen from 17 December 2021 to 22 May 2022. Information and ticket reservations via